Issue 2/2016

DNA

Context: CRISPR/Cas9 gene scissors

Gene scissors derived from bacterial “CRISPR/Cas” systems are considered to be a revolutionary discovery in the field of biosciences. It has never been easier to modify the genetic material of plants, animals or humans. Dr Johannes Stuttmann from the Institute of Biology explains the technique as well as its advantages and disadvantages.

Ice age in Ethiopia: refuge in the mountains?

Did the people in Ethiopia take refuge in the mountains during the last great ice age 16,000 years ago? An international team of soil scientists, archaeologists and biologists are conducting research on this as part of a new project entitled “The Mountain Exile Hypothesis”. To do this, soil scientists from Halle will be traveling to the remote Sanetti Plateau to examine the soil there and use modern biogeochemical methods to look for traces of mankind that are thousands of years old.

“There is no road map”

Field research is not limited to the natural sciences. Fieldwork is often conducted in the humanities and social sciences, too. But how? Professor Georg Breidenstein and two of his colleagues describe how it is done in the textbook “Ethnografie – die Praxis der Feldforschung” (Ethnography – the Practice of Fieldwork). In an interview, the educationalist discusses why participatory observation is necessary and what makes social science fieldwork special.

Oil in Chad: a blessing and a curse

When a country has access to oil reserves, this goes hand in hand with unimaginable wealth, right? Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. Since 2003 oil has been produced in this central African state. For twelve years, ethnologist Dr Andrea Behrends has been onsite examining how its society and culture have been changed by oil production.

Measuring nature

Crickets chirp at the edge of the forest, otherwise all is quiet in the Nature Park Saale Unstrut Triasland. Nine students from the University of Halle are working intently despite the midday heat. It is their last day in the field and there is still a lot left to do. In the master’s module Outdoor Ecology the up-and-coming biologists are learning what it means to conduct fieldwork in four investigation areas near Freyburg.

The memory of a city

How did the people of a Medieval city organise their living? How did the council rule? How did they punish environmental offenses? These and much more information can be found in the laws, protocols and letters of the administration. Since the 13th century those things were written down in city books. A team, headed by historian Professor Andreas Ranft and Dr Christian Speer, can finally make these books accessible to research thanks to funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG).

ULB goes digital

A repository of books? A tranquil reading space? A place of erudite learning? To Anke Berghaus-Sprengel, director of the University and State Library of Saxony-Anhalt (ULB) since April 2016, a modern library is much more than that. She is head of an institution that looks back on a long tradition but has also undergone plenty of change – and will continue to do so in the future.